It was 6:15 and I needed to get back on the road. I knew it was time to say goodbye. But the click and rush of the ventilator was making it hard. I leaned over and told him I loved him. I told him he was a great dad. I told him to rest and let his body heal. I told him to talk to Jesus. I squeezed his chilly hand and kissed his cool forehead. I smoothed out his bed head one last time. I gulped back the tears and left the ICU. Once I got in the car, I slumped my shoulders and cried like a baby, sure that I had said goodbye to my dad one last time.
On the two and a half hour ride home, I replayed some memories. I saw him in the stands at one of my swim meets. I came into the pharmacy in one of my Halloween costumes to trick or treat for an enormous candy bar since he had to work. I was in Toronto seeing Phantom with both he and my mom. It was bittersweet. One thing is for sure, when you're working through saying goodbye to a loved one, don't listen to Country music OR Christian music alone in the car on a relatively long drive. It's enough to send you over the edge.
So you can imagine my delight and surprise when I spoke with him on the phone last night at 9:15. Call in hours to the ICU are 9 am and 9 pm. If anything happens in between those hours, they call you. Promptly at 9:01, I called in. Erin, the nurse, was happy to tell me they took him off the ventilator earlier in the day and that he was sitting up and eating some mashed potatoes. He is off the insulin drip and they have nearly weaned him off the blood pressure medication that was stabilizing him. Granted, he's weak and still has many issues, but they have decided to treat him medically and with diet rather than surgery.
I asked the nurse if there was a phone in his room. I pretty much knew the answer. You aren't in the ICU to chat on the phone. But she was somehow able to rig a phone call to him. I wanted him to know that Steve and I are on our way this weekend. The first thing I said was, "DAD!!!!" The first thing he said was, "YES!!!! It is!" This is the way we start EVERY conversation on the phone. I can't tell you how giddy I was. Steve said it sounded like Christmas morning around here.
We have a crazy uphill battle to climb with his health. The next step is getting him into a rehab facility where this won't happen again. I'd really like him to come to Dayton. That is a fight you can pray for. We will head up there this weekend to fight that fight. The goal will be to get him strong enough to move back to his apartment; I feel he should be near us in order to reach that goal.
No one needs to argue with me about the fact that God is a healer. I know that sometimes He chooses to and sometimes He doesn't. Today, I am thankful that He has chosen to bring my dad back a little while longer.